Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Haven't I seen you somewhere before?

Compare this grammar column with this one.

Better yet, I'll save you the trouble: They are almost identical. That's not a big deal; they're both credited to Stephen Wilbers, who offers training in business writing. I read one weeks before the other, but that isn't a big deal, either.

What caught me off guard is that when I read the one published today in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the byline read "Special to the Star-Telegram." What does that mean? I'd assume the paper got some expert to write a column for them. But if the Startlegram published the same column as the Minneapolis Star Tribune had weeks earlier, I'd assume it was syndicated or distributed. If that's the case, the "Special to the ..." byline strikes me wrong.

Wilbers says at his Web site that he writes a weekly column for the Strib. I searched the Strib's site and found two others (you will have to register): Put your editing skills to the test and No cheer in using commas wrongly.

The use of "special" by the Star-Telegram isn't necessarily wrong. It can be used to mean "something that is not part of a regular series." But I've always read it to mean unique.


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